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4441.0 - Voluntary Work, Australia, 2000  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/06/2001   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


INTRODUCTION

Voluntary work is an important contribution to national life. It meets needs within the community and helps to develop and reinforce social networks and cohesion. In the Survey of Voluntary Work a volunteer was defined as someone who, in the last 12 months, willingly gave unpaid help in the form of time, service or skills, through an organisation or group.


CHANGE IN VOLUNTEERING OVER TIME

The estimated number of volunteers aged 18 years and over in 2000 was 4,395,600, representing 32% of the civilian population of the same age. In 1995 the estimated 3,189,400 volunteers represented 24% of the population. Growth in volunteer rates occurred for both sexes and across all age groups, but particularly the 18-24 (17% to 27%) and 55-64 (24% to 33%) years groups (table 2).

In 2000, volunteers contributed 704.1 million hours of voluntary work, an increase on the 1995 figure of 511.7 (table 3). However, the median weekly hours of voluntary work remained stable at 1.4 (table 4).


GEOGRAPHICAL COMPARISONS

As in 1995, the volunteer rate varied across States and Territories, from 38% in South Australia to 29% in New South Wales (table 5). Notwithstanding the relatively high rate for Adelaide (36%), people were more likely to volunteer if they lived outside a capital city. The volunteer rate was 28% for capital cities compared to 38% outside the capital cities. The lowest volunteer rate (25%) occurred in Sydney while the balance of Western Australia (outside Perth) had the highest (45%).


VOLUNTEER RATE: STATES AND TERRITORIES
VOLUNTEER RATE: STATES AND TERRITORIES - graph

WHO VOLUNTEERS?

Volunteer rates varied across different groups in the population. They were slightly higher for women than men (33% compared to 31%) and, with a few exceptions, this was the case regardless of birthplace, family status, labour force status (table 2) or location (table 5). Volunteer rates among the older age groups were marginally higher for men than for women as were the rates for partners with dependent children and non-family members not living alone. Men employed full-time also had a slightly higher rate of volunteering (34%) than women employed on the same basis (31%).

The pattern of volunteering varied with age and life stage. People aged 35-44 years reported the highest rate of volunteering (40%). At these ages people are more likely to be married with children and their higher than average volunteer rate reflects their family commitments. This is most marked for women. Thus, female partners with dependent children had a volunteer rate of 45% compared to 28% for female partners without dependent children. Similarly, women employed part-time had a higher volunteer rate (44%) than those employed full-time (31%) (table 2).

VOLUNTEER RATE: AGE
VOLUNTEER RATE: AGE- graph


People born in Australia were more likely to undertake voluntary work than those born outside Australia, 35% and 25% respectively.

People in paid employment, either full-time or part-time, were more likely to volunteer than those who were unemployed or not in the labour force (table 2). However, in aggregate, people not in the labour force contributed slightly more hours of voluntary work (265.2 million hours a year) than people who were employed full-time (260.7 million hours a year) or part-time (154.1 million hours) (table 3). This pattern differed for males and females. Among males the largest contribution (58% of male hours) came from those employed full-time while among females the largest contribution (44% of female hours) was made by those not in the labour force. People not in the labour force also had the highest median weekly hours of voluntary work (2.1), while those employed full-time had the lowest (1.0) (table 4).


ANNUAL HOURS OF VOLUNTARY WORK: LABOUR FORCE STATUS
ANNUAL HOURS OF VOLUNTARY WORK - graph


RELATIONSHIP WITH PAID EMPLOYMENT

For employed people the volunteer rate varied considerably between occupational groupings. Professionals had the highest participation rate (46%), closely followed by advanced clerical, sales and service workers (45%) and managers and administrators (42%). Intermediate production and transport workers had the lowest rate (22%) (table 6).

VOLUNTEER RATE: OCCUPATION

Graph - Volunteer Rate: Occupation


The nature of people's voluntary work was closely related to their type of paid employment. Managers and administrators were more likely than other occupational groups to do management and committee work (64% compared to 45% for volunteers overall), professionals were more likely to teach (65% compared to 44%) and tradespersons were much more likely to undertake repairs, maintenance or gardening activities (47% compared to 25%) (table 22).

The industry in which a person was employed was also related to their type of volunteer involvement. The following industries and types of organisations showed a strong association (table 16):
  • health and community services industries and volunteers in health organisations (14% of volunteers from the industry, compared to 8% of all volunteers);
  • education industries and education, training and youth development organisations (45% compared to 28%);


VOLUNTEER INVOLVEMENTS

Almost two-thirds of volunteers (65%) worked for one organisation only (table 9) and a further 31% worked for two or three. There was a slight variation by age with younger people more likely than others to work for only one organisation and the middle age group (45-54 years) more likely to work for three or more organisations.

Two types of organisations together claimed almost half of all volunteer hours; community/welfare (26%) and sport/recreation (21%) (table 19). Together with religious (17%) and education/training/youth development (14%) types of organisations, they accounted for almost 80% of all volunteer hours. These four categories were also the largest in terms of the number of volunteer involvements (table 14).

Male volunteers were most likely to be involved in sporting or recreational organisations. For females, community/welfare organisations involved the largest number (table 14). Although there were slightly more female than male volunteers overall, there were many more male involvements than female in the fields of sport/recreation, business/professional/union, and emergency services.


VOLUNTEER INVOLVEMENT RATE: TYPE OF ORGANISATION
Graph - Volunteer Involvement Rate: Type of Organisation


TYPES OF VOLUNTARY ACTIVITIES

As is the case for people in paid employment, volunteers perform a range of different tasks when undertaking voluntary work. The activities most frequently reported by volunteers were fundraising (56%), management (45%), teaching (44%) and administration (41%) (table 21).

The sex segregation observed among some occupations for paid work is also evident in voluntary work activities. For example, female volunteers were much more likely than male volunteers to be preparing and serving food (47% compared to 23%) whereas men were more likely than women to be involved in such activities as repairs, maintenance and gardening (38% compared to 14%), and coaching and refereeing (29% compared to 16%).


VOLUNTEER ACTIVITY RATE: TYPE OF ACTIVITY
VOLUNTEER ACTIVITY RATE: TYPE OF ACTIVITY - graph


HOURS WORKED


Because most volunteers contributed relatively few hours, while a minority worked for a large number of hours, the arithmetic mean is a misleading measure of hours worked by the average volunteer. The median is a more appropriate measure for purposes of comparison.


The median hours of voluntary work per week was 1.4 or about 72 hours per year. This was greater for women than men (74 hours compared to 64 hours). Although the number of volunteers was highest in the age group 35-44 years, median hours of voluntary work tended to increase steadily with age, up to the 65-74 years age group where the median hours were 2.5 per week (table 4). This correlates with the decrease in family and paid work commitments with advancing age.


MEDIAN WEEKLY HOURS OF VOLUNTARY WORK: AGE
MEDIAN WEEKLY HOURS OF VOLUNTARY WORK - graph


Just over a quarter (28%) of all volunteers spent less than 20 hours per year on voluntary work. Around 13% of volunteers contributed 140-299 hours and a further 8% contributed 300 hours or more per year. Median hours spent working for religious organisations were the highest of all the types of organisations (60 hours per year) (table 20).


Median hours per year worked by females were considerably greater than those worked by males in health (45 hours compared to 32 hours), education (40 hours compared to 28 hours), and religious (72 hours compared to 52 hours) organisations.


ONGOING COMMITMENT

In total there were almost 6.5 million involvements in voluntary work. Over a quarter (28%) of these occurred at least once a week (table 10). Regular (weekly) voluntary work accounted for 73% of all voluntary hours worked indicating a substantial commitment of time, skill and effort on the part of volunteers (table 18). In addition, 40% of volunteers had been working for their current types of organisations for at least six years and around 25% for more than 10 years (table 17). However, for many volunteers their first experience of volunteering had occurred earlier, with 48% having first volunteered more than 10 years ago (table 7).


REASONS FOR BEING A VOLUNTEER

Voluntary work provides benefits to the community. This was acknowledged as a current reason for volunteering by 47% of volunteers. However, volunteers also identified benefits to themselves with 43% reporting personal satisfaction. For the 18-24 years age group volunteering was also seen as a way to learn new skills and to gain work experience (13% and 17%, respectively) (table 11).


PROPORTION OF VOLUNTEERS: CURRENT REASONS FOR BEING A VOLUNTEER(a)
PROPORTION OF VOLUNTEERS: CURRENT REASONS FOR BEING A VOLUNTEER - graph
(a) Volunteers may give more than one reason. Therefore figures for individual categories will not add to 100%.


VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT


Over half of those who first became involved in voluntary work in the last 10 years were either asked to volunteer by someone (32%) or they knew someone involved (29%). Volunteers were rarely recruited through the media; only 4% became involved in volunteering in response to a media report or an advertisement (table 8).


SYDNEY 2000 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC VOLUNTEERS

Voluntary work for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been explicitly excluded from the survey estimates (see Explanatory Notes). However, data provided by the Sydney Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (SOCOG) show that there were around 47,500 Olympic volunteers, the majority from NSW. As for non-Olympic volunteers, there were slightly more women than men but the age profile was slightly younger. Around 40% of Olympic volunteers were aged less than 35 years compared to 29% of volunteers generally.


DONATIONS

Personal donations of money to organisations were made by 10,270,700 people aged 18 years and over in the 12 months prior to interview. This represents 74% of the equivalent population. People who were volunteers donated at a higher rate than non-volunteers (84% compared to 70%) and females whether volunteers or not donated at a higher rate than males (table 23). Among volunteers, the peak age group for making monetary donations was 45-54 years (88%) but the donation rate was above 85% for all age groups over 25-34 years. Among non-volunteers the pattern was slightly different with the peak donation group being 35-44 years (75%) and the donation rate declining to below 70% thereafter.


DONATION RATE: AGE
DONATION RATE: AGE - graph


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